A few months back (ahem, yes it’s been a while) I hopped a plane to Europe and met M for a 2-week holiday in Italy. I have a personal theory that it is impossible to have a bad holiday in Italy. This was maybe my eighth trip and it didn’t disappoint. We started on the Amalfi coast at the wedding of some friends, before driving up through Umbria, spending a couple of days in Parma and finishing on Lago Maggiore with both of our families. Glorious.
Since the friends’ wedding was on the beach, I knew I wanted to make a dress with a fun seaside vibe. I picked up this Michael miller flamingo border print when I was last in the UK, from the Village Haberdashery. It was a total shotgun fabric purchase – I had 10 mins between appointments and my stepdad kept the car running outside whilst I ran in with my mum. Fortunately this one jumped straight out of the stack – it was meant to be.
My starting block was the tried-and-true Emery dress by Christine Haynes because I love the fit of the bodice (see previous version here). From there I played around a bit and made three main changes: A deep v-neck, a pleated skirt and little cap sleeves. I tried out two of these modifications (v-neck and pleats) on a wearable toile before cutting into the real thing.
On the toile I was really happy with the pleat placement. Something about a flat front with volume at the sides feels really good – swishy yet flattering. The neckline on the other hand was just a little “off”. Not terrible, totally wearable, but not the look I was going for. I decided to try it deeper and narrower for the real version. It was at this point I also decided to add little cap sleeves to balance the neckline, using the pattern piece from the Washi dress I made last year (making another of those with shirring elastic is still on my to-sew list).
My other lesson learned from the toile process was to finish the neckline with a facing rather than binding. I looked at a bunch of tutorials for finishing a v neck with binding and the toile is ok, but I felt I got a much crisper, cleaner finish on the second dress. Facings, you win this round.
If it’s not clear from the photos I love the finished dress. Just the right balance of breezy and fun and pretty for a seaside wedding imo… It is sadly far too fancy to wear day to day in Bangui, but I brought it back with me anyway. It makes me smile when I open my wardrobe.